ARRERNTE TRIBAL GROUP
The Eastern and Central Arrernte people live in Central Australia, their
traditional land including the area of Alice Springs and East MacDonnell
Ranges. They are also referred to as Aranda, Arrarnta, Arunta, and other
similar spellings. Their neighbours are the Southern Arrernte, Luritja,
Anmatyerr, Alyawarr and Western Arrernte peoples. There are five
dialects of the Arrernte language: South-eastern, Central, Northern,
Eastern and North-eastern.
Arrernte country is rich with mountain ranges, waterholes, and gorges;
as a result the Arrernte people set aside 'conservation areas' in which
various species are protected.
Arrernte people maintain a strong presence in Alice Springs, and have
formed the Arrernte Council of Central Australia, as well playing a
major role in the Aboriginal organisations in Alice Springs. Many
Arrernte people also live in communities outside of Alice Springs and on
There are roughly 1800 speakers of Eastern and Central Arrernte, making
it the largest spoken language in the Arandic family, and one of the
largest speaking populations of any
language. It is taught in schools, heard in local media and local
HISTORY OF OUR SOUTHERN ARRERNTE FAMILY /
The Arrernte speaking people were those who occupied most
of the choice regions in the Mac Donnell Ranges. Their territory
stretched about 110 kilometres to both West and East and was about 330
kilometres in extent from North and South.
Though forming one language group, the Arrernte were
divided into six sub groups, each with its particular territory. These
sub-groups were further divided into small family or kin groups, all
bound by the very rigid system of authority governed by intermarriage
and movements over another group Estate .
The boundaries of Estates of these sub groups were
fixed by the ancestral being and varied greatly in size.
In the 1880's Dick "Penangke"
Taylor was born at Mount Boal , and over the next 86 years, he had 9
children. From his First wife Mary, Harry , Alex , Alison , Willy , Sam
, Peter , Myra ( Kanikiya) , and Mavis. From his second wife , he had a
Altogether there are now 36 grand children and 126 great
grand children that makes up the Pwerte Marnte Marnte Aboriginal
Corporation , (a community as it is known today).
WE DON'T OWN THIS LAND, THE LAND OWNS US !
It is difficult for others to appreciate this
identity, as the anthropologist Professor W.E.H. Stanner found when he
tried to put it into words for non-Aboriginals to understand :
"No English words are good enough to give a sense of the links between
an Aboriginal group and its homeland. Our word "home", warm and
suggestive though it be, does not match the Aboriginal word that may
mean "camp", "heart", "country", "everlasting home", "totem place",
"life source", "spirit centre", and much else all in one. Our word
"land" is too spare and meagre. We can now scarcely use it except with
economic overtones unless we happen to be poets.
The Aboriginal would speak of "earth and use the word in a richly
symbolic way to mean his "shoulder" or his "side". I have seen an
Aboriginal embrace the earth he walked on. To put our words "home" and
"land" together into "homeland" is a little better but not much. A
different tradition leaves us tongueless and earless towards this other
world of meaning and significance. When we took what we call "land" we
took what to them meant home, the source and locus of life, and
everlastingness of spirit.
They say we have been here for 40 000 years, but it is much longer - We
have been here since time began We have come directly out of the
Dreamtime of our creative ancestors - We have kept the earth as it was
on the first day. Our culture is focused on recording the origins of
We refer to forces and powers that created the world as creative
Our beautiful world has been created only in accordance with the power,
wisdom and intentions of our ancestral beings.
During the creation of our world , the ancestors moved across a barren
land, hunting, camping, fighting and loving and in doing so shaped a
Moving from Dreams to actions, the ancestors made the ants, the emus,
the crows, the possums, the wallabies, the kangaroos, the lizard, the
goanna, the snakes and all the food and plants.
They made the sun, the moon and the planets. They made the
humans, tribes and
Each could transform into the other. A plant could become an
animal, an animal a
landform, a landform a man or a woman.
Everything was created from the same source.
Everything was created in our Dreamtime.
the world took shape and was filled with species and
varieties of the ancestral tranformations,
ancestors tired and retired into:
* the earth
* the sky
* the clouds
* and the creatures to live within all their created
* In our Dreamtime